Meet the founders of Rooms for Change at the Berlin Travel Festival
Please introduce yourself to our readers!
We’re Gaby & Tony, a California-based husband and wife duo behind the non-profit hotel booking site Rooms for Change.
Please tell us about your business?
Rooms for Change offers travelers a chance to find the best rates on thousands of hotel rooms worldwide while contributing to a GOOD CAUSE. 100% of our profit goes towards funding trips for disadvantaged youth and seniors. We are on a mission to enable more people to experience the life-changing power of travel! Through our project Gift of Travel we aim to show them the beauty of our incredible planet, broaden their horizons, and use travel as a tool to build tolerance and break down stereotypes. We live in an increasingly polarized society. As they say, the most dangerous worldview is the view of those who have never viewed the world.
How difficult was the start and what challenges did you have to overcome?
We’re still a tiny team of two and have been from the beginning, which means we both wear many hats, from tech and operations through accounts to marketing, social media, content creation, PR, and anything in between. We’re learning new skills all the time. Since we’re a non-profit we haven’t been able to seek outside funding via the usual investor route, hence grant writing is yet another skill we had to acquire. We also had to go through the somewhat tedious process of non-profit application with the US government. Although looking back it has all been very rewarding and only made us more motivated.
Can you describe your typical workday?
There is no such thing as a typical work day at Rooms for Change, although we do have a pretty strict morning routine which has greatly helped us get through the early days. It entails a 5:30 wake up, meditation, journaling and/or affirmations, yoga, a healthy breakfast. and setting goals for the day ahead.
Why did you decide to exhibit at the Berlin Travel Fesitval?
We wanted to connect with the European audience because travelers here have first hand awareness of both the importance of sustainable travel and the impact of overtourism- and it’s crucial for us as an organization to be an advocate for responsible tourism. Likewise, fellow European travel businesses are very concerned with providing solutions for traveling mindfully which we find very inspiring. It’s great to spend those three days surrounded by so many great minds and motivational ideas in this field.
What do you think: How did the startup scene change in the last years? The most common mistakes of startup founders?
The startup scene has definitely become more competitive but at the same time founders start to wake up to the fact that it’s about collaboration, not competition. That goes especially for the travel and tourism sector – we have begun to realize the negative impact of the industry. Also, the amount of tools and resources available to startups today makes it easier to scale.
We would say the most common mistakes founders make is 1. being afraid to fail and not taking risks when needed to set yourself apart; and 2. not thinking enough of the bigger picture and the impact of their business on the planet and all stakeholders – although as we said that’s changing.
Which books do you read?
We very much believe in the power of the quote “Leaders are Readers” and try to read as many books as possible, which often involves getting up extra early. Since Rooms for Change is actually a charity, we try to combine the topics of leadership, social entrepreneurship, business, activism and of course travel, among others. Some titles we would highly recommend to any aspiring founder/change maker include: The Responsible Company by Yvon Chouinard, Do the Kind Thing by Daniel Lubetzky, Thirst by Scott Harrison or any book by Sir Richard Branson. We also wholeheartedly recommend the podcast How I Built This.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
We see Rooms for Change expanding to multiple countries and with enough funding to sponsor dozens of impactful charity trips every year.
What 3 tips would you give to founders?
Get a mentor and never stop learning, even if only via the right books and podcasts. Sort out your morning routine – crucial! Take care of your physical and mental health – you won’t do any good to your venture by sleeping 5 hours a night and eating the infamous ‘1$ ramen’. Exercise, meditate, eat wholesome foods, and surround yourself with the right people. They say you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, it’s so true! Oh and choose your co-founder right. This relationship will be just as intense as a marriage, and we should know – we’ve had to cope with both!
More information you will find here
Thank you for Gaby and Tony for the Interview
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.